Gaslighting Knowledge Management

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Tech Company Agenda

Technology Sales Agenda:

  1. Make money on licensing. 
  2. Help the customer by selling them our technology so that we can make money. 
  3. Be a partner to the customer by getting them to buy licensing so that we can make money. 
  4. Make money on licensing, support, maintenance. 
  5. Build stuff so that it barely works so that we can sell it and build on it.  If it fails, throw it away at no cost to us.  Offset cost to customers and still make money. 

Technology companies have an agenda to make money.  As well, they should as the market demands results.  If they don’t show progress and growth they get penalized by investors.  This creates a situation where the underlying motivator has to outweigh some kind of higher standards of organizational intent.   The system itself is designed to reward short term results.  Under these conditions, technology companies are forced to accelerate change, growth and new capabilities.

The problem is that you can’t get fat or fit overnight.  There are natural conditions which inhibit anyone from being able to move that fast and maintain quality.   This sacrifice of quality for speed is ever increasing and becoming more prevalent in our everyday lives.

Companies push and push the envelope of reduction in quality, test, and knowledge until something bad happens.   The net result is an apology.   Most recently we are seeing this with Boeing.   We see all sorts of issues every day as a result of this lunacy in rapid change.   We just overlook a lot because it is normal for us now.   How many of you have to turn on something like Google Maps or Waze but have a GPS system in your car?  I have a newer car that accepts voice prompts.  It probably knows everything the engineers that designed it say but knows nothing I say.  I spent a lot of money on something that literally doesn’t work.  “It’s a feature”  Toyota sends me a bunch of surveys that they want me to fill out for free. Meanwhile, I have to buy extra technology to fix and augment their failure to finish the vehicle.

This creates an opportunity for smaller companies to make money as well. They get to become feeder fish to the big sharks.  The sharks don’t want to focus on fixing the older products just building and shaping the new.  Hence, I won’t get a voice upgrade for my current POS.  I can buy one though from an aftermarket supplier.


  1. The sales person made money for selling me something essentially mostly finished.
  2. For me to make it better, I have to buy more stuff.
  3. The selling company wants to hear my suggestions (no cost to them).
  4. The selling company wants to sell me new things.
  5. The selling company wants me to buy subscriptions to maintain and support.
  6. I get to pay this very expensive thing off forever while they try to convince me that the new thing they are releasing right now deserves more attention.

 Pick an industry, it is the same across the board. 

The Knowledge Management Aspect

Large companies dealing in technologies for the workplace have been selling solutions for knowledge management for years.  These technologies have been extremely beneficial in helping people become more productive and effective.   The advancement in technology has also enabled collaboration and findability which supports effective knowledge management.  The problem now is the promise from technology companies has outpaced the product.   These companies are gaslighting their customers and customers are more confused than ever.  What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s belief.[1][2]

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What is Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management (KM) is the art of transforming information and intellectual assets into enduring value for an organization’s clients and its people.
The purpose of knowledge management is to:

  • Foster the reuse of intellectual capital
  • Enable better decision making
  • Create the conditions for innovation
    KM provides people, processes, and technology to help knowledge flow:
    To the right people, at the right time, so they can act more efficiently and effectively. @stangarfield 

Knowledge is not a “thing” that can be “managed”. It is a capacity of people and communities, continuously generated and renewed in their conversation, to meet new challenges and opportunities. @Wendy Woodson

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Dazed and Confused ~

In the knowledge management productivity and collaboration space, new technologies and capabilities emerge by the minute.  I equate the changes from large technology companies to this video.

The person behind the machine feeding the chocolate is at 100% from a KPI perspective.  Everyone down the line suffers from a number of deficiencies. Fundamentally, there was a lack of knowledge transfer.  Technologically speaking the conveyor company could have provided better faster technology but it wouldn’t have helped.    If the technology company was selling licensing, maintenance, support and enhancements these would not help under the current operating model.

Companies that are selling knowledge management technologies assume because they look to understand market verticals that they understand the “nature” of the companies they are selling to.  This is part of gaslighting.   They say “I know energy because I sell to 10 energy companies.”  That’s like saying “I know what you like to eat because I know people in your family.”  They like to talk about what others are doing in your industry and seek to compare you with them.  They want to create a sense of urgency because you may be beaten by your competition.  The problem is they didn’t know you in the first place.  Generally, people are busy and overwhelmed and these companies take advantage of the fact.  This continues the gaslighting.


They convince leadership that technology can augment, supplement and replace people in KM.   You may not need knowledge management people any longer because the technology does what they did.  The problem is that the “lock out tag out” policy on SharePoint, wasn’t conveyed to our friend here.  The automation technology wasn’t particularly helpful either.  I wonder if the next product release will have a “people eating” sensor?

While this may seem a bit much.  It is the truth.   Companies are replacing people with capabilities that are supposedly designed to replace those people.  They don’t and they can’t because most of them are a minimal viable product.  This means they are not “fully baked.”  The result is to go out and buy more technology.  More gaslighting.

Tech companies promise to assist in partnership to lower operational costs.  Senior leaders make strategic investments (spend money) to lower operational costs (experience failure) and spend more money to resolve the failures and recover.   The net result is a higher cost but shifted expense ratio.  Instead of placing money and investing in your company and your knowledge, they misdirected you and found ways for you to spend money with them.   When they mess up, they apologize.  There is no remedy with their apology and since you are waist deep in their technologies, it is difficult to abandon your investment.  In other words, “gotcha.”

Now they roll out new capabilities, new features, new functions and you let go of the people in your company that had the knowledge or managed knowledge.  The new technologies are confusing and hard to implement.  More gaslighting.   If they create conditions in which they trick you to believe they can help you with the technology and you invested to the extent that you can’t allow this to fail it becomes an endless loop.


Then there’s this 

If you don’t move fast enough.. you are gone.  If you move too fast you are gone.  Constantly threatened and constantly under pressure.   In the application to knowledge management, since these folks have unquantifiable monetary value and the technology can replace them,  it makes sense to shift and leverage the emerging technology. #gaslighting


The emerging normalization of collaboration and productivity services is brilliant.  Discounted services for home use, new emerging digital tools, and acceleration in the introduction of rapid software enhancement create a condition in which technology emerges literally faster than people can learn it.   The sales people can fake it as all they need to understand is the very basics of the capability.   The promise of enhanced capability is ever attractive and as they gain more dollars to build the capability they enhance it off the failures in production.  The costs of failure are carried by the customer and if one customer suffers a catastrophic loss, they still have many that will benefit from that loss.  Contracts today don’t offer remedy beyond an apology and a “Mea Culpa.”  This creates an epic continuum of confusion.  Knowledge Management seeks to reduce confusion, which makes it the natural enemy.   Think about this next time the technology companies tell you how many people you can reduce by because you can use their services.